If you are just setting up a blog you might be wondering which plugins to install and why they are important. There is a plugin available for any type of function or customization that you can think of. But not all plugins are necessary.
There are, however, a few basic plugins that all blogs should use. Please note that I link to several popular plugins below based on total active installs, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations by other bloggers.
All plugins below can be searched for and installed through the Plugin area of your WordPress Dashboard. See How To Install a WordPress Plugin, for more information.
Security plugins help protect your site from hackers and malware. They allow you block unwanted visitors and scan your site for security issues. I use the Wordfence security plugin for my blog. Wordfence sends me email alerts whenever an attempt is made to login to my site. It also alerts me when changes are made to my files or updates need to be done. I can also monitor the Live traffic and blocked IP addresses and permanently block anything suspicious.
Popular Free Security Plugins:
- Wordfence Security
- iThemes Security
- Bulletproof Security
- All-in-One WP Security & Firewall
- Sucuri Security
A backup plugin is essential for your blog. You should backup your blog before making any major changes, when troubleshooting problems, for disaster recovery, and in the event that you need to set up your blog on a new host. I use Updraftplus for backups and it is set to automatically backup my blog daily and send a copy of all backup files to Google drive. I receive an email daily letting me know that my backup was complete.
Free Popular Backup Plugins
Spam Protection Plugin
Spam protection plugins help protect your blog from both comment and contact form spam. The most common spam protection plugin is Akismet and comes pre-installed with WordPress. I still get comment spam with Akismet alone so I also use WP-SpamShield for an extra layer of protection. So far, my blog comments are spam-free.
Free Popular Spam Protection Plugins
SEO / Sitemap Plugin
SEO or search engine optimization is important to help bring search engine traffic to your site. For those (like me!) who are not very skilled in search engine optimization using a plugin to help with SEO is a good idea. I use the Yoast SEO plugin which helps optimize your site for search engine traffic and for social sharing. If you don’t think you need a feature-rich plugin like Yoast, you can also install a Sitemap plugin to make it easier for your blog to be discovered.
Free Popular SEO / Sitemap Plugins
A cache plugin will help your blog load faster for your visitor by storing web files in memory. It’s sort of like an internet browser storing browsing history. So the next time the web page is visited, it will load faster by restoring the previously viewed file. My host has its own cache plugin, SG CachePress but previously, I used W3 Total Cache. I honestly don’t have a lot of inside knowledge on how caching works. I mostly use the plugin to “clear the cache” when I make changes to my site so I can see the changes immediately instead of waiting.
Free Popular Cache Plugins
Email Optin Plugin
One of the first bits of blogging advice you’ll receive is to start an email list. You can use your email list to send out new blog posts, weekly/monthly newsletters, or other blog-related content. Most email service providers offer ways for you to help collect email addresses. They have plugins, or provide an HTML code to add to your site. I prefer to use a plugin. My favorite plugin for email optins is MailMunch. It integrates with most popular email service providers such as Mailchimp, Aweber, Mailerlite, and Active Campaign. And, it offers several options for optin forms such as pop-ups, scroll triggered boxes, sidebar forms, or embedded forms.
Free Popular Email Optin Plugins
Social Sharing Plugin
If you have a blog, you want your content to be seen, right? A social sharing plugin will make it easy for your readers to share your stuff. The most talked about plugin for social sharing is Sumome, which has three different types of social sharing apps (among other apps) in one plugin. I use Sumome for image sharing and the floating share buttons on the left side of the page.
I also use a static social sharing plugin call Genesis simple share which adds share buttons to the bottom of every post.
Free Popular Social Sharing Plugins
Social Media Plugin
Social media icons and social media follow plugins are good to have so that your readers can connect with you outside of your blog. I use the Simple Social Icons plugin to link to my social media accounts. There are also other plugins available that display your social media feed with an option to follow. I see them often for Instagram and Pinterest accounts.
Free Popular Social Media Plugins
There are many other plugins that offer additional functionality to your site, but these are the most essential plugins for your blog.
What other plugins do you consider essential to your blog? Let me know in the comments.